Country diary: Billions of mussel larvae call for 15,000 meters of rope | Fishing

While most other crofters are minding their fields for lambs, we are watching the water. Loch Eil reflects the soft gray clouds rolling down the corries, but closer inspection reveals milky drifts below its surface. The mussels are spawning. Mytilus edulis release sperm and eggs into the water, making a swimming soup of fertilization that … Read more

Country diary: A scent-filled walk to a remote lake | Wildlife

or path slants out of Cwm Nantcol through Coed Crafnant. Among sessile oaks, migrant birds throng after exhausting journeys from Africa. The air is melodic with the velvet diminuendo of willow warblers; leaves of the trees have not yet opened, concealing their perpetual activity among high branches. Pied flycatchers – miniature magpies in stroboscopic dance-mode … Read more

Country diary: Much has changed in this vast, natural amphitheater | Birds

The Burbage Valley has been my working week and Sunday rest since the day almost 40 years ago, when a mate and I bunked off school to climb on the gritstone edges that fringe this vast, natural amphitheater. Much has changed since then, most of it for the better, but the geomantic drama of the … Read more

Country diary: A chomping otter transforms into a beautiful creature | Animals

Two joggers were running on the opposite bank of the Usk, their loose dogs flushing rabbits that skittered down through willow scrub to the water’s edge. The river ran straight, deep and smooth here, yet to be ruffled by the broad meander 300 meters downstream that would fillet the current over a boulder-strewn bed of … Read more

Country diary: Just me, a cuckoo and a misty moor | Environment

or dense, early morning fog blanketed the moorland valley. From my garden I could just make out submerged shapes of scattered stone buildings, soft silhouettes of trees skirting the hillside, the pale disc of the rising sun like a pill dissolving in the mist. I stood and waited, listening hard for the sound that had … Read more

Country diary: The muntjac deer decides I am not a threat | Animals

So loudly unobtrusive, their lives confined from dawn to dusk to a copse that I could walk through in three minutes, the closest deer were always the least visible. How many of the passersby who sidestepped the mocha-colored pellets on the adjoining path linked those scatterings to the hoarse barks coming from the bushes? I … Read more